Purchasing Patterns

Here we are focusing on two important purchasing patterns (1) the extent to which consumers develop repeat purchasing patterns and (2) the extent to which purchases are unplanned . These subjects will be discussed in the context of brand loyalty and impulse purchasing.

Brand loyalty:

Brand loyalty is a topic of much concern to all marketers. Every company seeks to have a steady group of unwavering customers for its product or service because research suggests that an increase in market share is related to improved brand loyalty marketers are understandably concerned with this element . Thus brands that seek to improve their market positions have to be successful both in getting brand users and in increasing their loyalty. The significance of brand loyalty is illustrated in the following examples:

In the cereal market, people switch brands as often as ten times a year and a new brand has only six months to establish itself before losing out to a more popular competitor . Consequently cereal brands scrap hard for shelf space and advertise loudly to catch consumer attention to be the one in three new brands that survives.

Brand loyalty in big ticket durable purchases is relatively low (only one out of three repurchases the same brand in a particular product category) although category on average.

Thus, brand loyalty is a challenging goal each marketer seeks to attain; yet, many have been concerned over an apparent decrease in brand loyalty over the last decade, attributed to several factors:

1) Sophisticated advertising appeals and heavy media sport.
2) Parity of products in form, content and communication.
3) Price competition from private and generic labels.
4) Sales promotion tactics of mass displays, coupons, and price specials that appeal to consumer impulse buying.
5) General fickleness of consumers in buying behavior.
6) High inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
7) Growth of new products competing for shelf space and consumer attention.

However, research indicates that overall brand loyalty has remained virtually stable over the past ten years, while many individual brands have had declines and gains in loyalty. A recent study of consumer loyalty to brands in eighty product categories found that the leader in market share whether they would switch for a 50 per cent discount. Some products with high loyalty were cigarettes, laxatives, cold remedies, 35 mm film, and toothpaste. Product having medium loyalty included colas, margarine, shampoo, hand lotion and furniture polish. Low loyalty items included paper towels, crackers, scouring powder, plastic trash bags, and facial tissues.

The nature of brand loyalty:

A study of repeat purchase behavior for nine products based on a Chicago Tribune purchase panel suggested that there were four brand loyalty patterns as follows:

1) Undivided loyalty is exhibited by families purchasing brand A in the following sequence: AAAAAA
2) Divided loyalty is exhibited by the family purchasing brands A and B in the following sequence: ABABAB
3) Unstable loyalty is sown by the family buying brands A and B in the following sequence: AAABBB
4) No loyalty is shown by families buying brands A, B, C, D, E and F in the following sequence: ABCDEF

On the basis of the products studied, it was concluded that the majority of consumers tend to purchase a favorite brand or set of brands. Although the degree of loyalty varies by product, the percentage of consumers exhibiting some brand loyalty was rather high. A definite relationship was discovered between strength of brands and nature of the loyalty shown. Loyalty appears to be high for well established products in which little or no changes have occurred and low where product entries are frequent.

Source: Marketing management